An Overview of Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, is a condition where you do not get enough air, experience chest tightness, or work harder to breathe. It mostly results from heart and lung conditions. Allergies, anxiety, and asthma are other causes of dyspnea. Symptoms of shortness of breath – Midwood varies in each patient and depends on the cause. But the common symptoms include chest tightness, wheezing, rapid breathing, working hard to get a deep breath, or feeling you need to force yourself to breathe deeply. Shortness of breath is treatable, depending on the cause. Treatment focuses on the underlying cause and present symptoms.

Risk factors for shortness of breath

You are more likely to get shortness of breath if you do not get enough exercise, have anemia, have anxiety, and have a smoking history. Heart, lung, or breathing issues, respiratory infection, and being overweight can also increase your risk of having shortness of breath.

How is shortness of breath diagnosed?

Physical examination: During a physical exam, your doctor will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope and take your blood pressure. The provider will also put a sensor on your finger to observe the oxygen levels in your blood.

X-ray: Your doctor can use a chest X-ray to evaluate the health of your heart and lungs.

Computerized tomography scans: CT scan shows more detailed images of your heart and lungs that an X-ray scan.

Electrocardiograms: This test can help detect signs of a heart attack or electrical heart problems.

Spirometry tests: This test measures the airflow and your lung capacity. A spirometry test can help identify the type and the extent of your breathing problems.

Blood tests: Your doctor can recommend blood tests to detect anemia and other medical conditions.

Lung function tests: These tests show how well you are breathing.

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing: This test involves you using a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. Your provider will measure the amount of oxygen you take in and the carbon dioxide you release during exercise.

What are treatment options for shortness of breath?


If your dyspnea results from asthma, your doctor may recommend drugs like bronchodilators and steroids. Dyspnea due to an infection like bacterial pneumonia can be treated by antibiotics. Other medicines like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety medications can also manage dyspnea symptoms.

Oxygen therapy

If your blood oxygen level is too low, your doctor may prescribe extra oxygen. Oxygen is delivered to your nose through a mask or a tube.

Relaxation techniques

Your healthcare provider can recommend you practice relaxation techniques and breathing exercises. These techniques help with dyspnea resulting from underlying breathing issues and anxiety.

Is shortness of breath life-threatening?

Shortness of breath is often not dangerous, but sometimes it can be a sign of a life-threatening condition. Get emergency care if you experience sudden difficulty breathing, severe breathlessness, chest muscle pain, high fever, blue skin, lips or nails, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and swollen ankles or feet.

Shortness of breath is when you do not get enough air, experience chest tightness, or work harder to breathe. It can result from heart or lung problems, anxiety, or allergies. Schedule an appointment at New York Medical and Vascular Care for shortness of breath treatment to prevent life-threatening conditions.

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